REPORT: President Trump Moves to Block Mitt Romney

New reports claim that President Donald Trump is encouraging Orrin Hatch, who serves as the senior U.S. Senator for Utah, to seek reelection.

Sources close to both men have been saying for months that the 83-year-old Hatch is planning to retire, and former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney will subsequently run for his Senate seat.

According to Politico, however, President Trump is privately urging Hatch to run again, and that Trump’s urgings will “burst into public view on Monday,” during Trump’s visit to Salt Lake City:

Romney has been preparing to run for Hatch’s seat on the long-held assumption that the 83-year-old would retire. Yet Hatch, the longest-serving Republican senator in history, is now refusing to rule out another campaign — a circumstance Romney’s infuriated inner circle blames squarely on the president. Their suspicions are warranted: Trump has sounded off to friends about how he doesn’t like the idea of a Senator Romney.

The president’s mostly behind-the-scenes campaign to sway Hatch will burst into public view on Monday, when he arrives in Salt Lake City to hold a well-choreographed event designed to showcase his affection for the powerful Senate Finance Committee chairman […] 

Trump is slated to ride with Hatch both ways on Air Force One — a total of roughly nine hours round-trip. After descending from the plane together, the two will meet with Mormon leaders and then head to the state capitol for the signing of the executive order, according to three White House officials. Hatch will introduce Trump, who in turn is expected to lavish praise on the senator. After the order is signed, Hatch is expected to receive the president’s pen.

The public display of affection isn’t just about blocking Romney, senior administration officials say. Trump has felt loyal to Hatch since the senator defended him in the wake of the “Access Hollywood” tape episode late in the 2016 campaign. Hatch stuck by Trump even as other members of Utah’s Republican delegation withdrew their support.

Last year, Romney called Trump’s comments to Billy Bush about women in the now infamous Hollywood Access tape “vile degradations.”

The Washington Post reported:

Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, a Trump critic, said in a statement: “Hitting on married women? Condoning assault? Such vile degradations demean our wives and daughters and corrupt America’s face to the world.”

Hatch, meanwhile, defended Trump over the comments, and over several other accusations against Trump’s character.

Senator Hatch took to Twitter on Friday to release a short video concerning Trump’s upcoming visit.

“I’m thrilled,” Hatch said, that “the president has accepted my invitation to come to the great state of Utah on Monday.”

Hatch went on to summarize what the visit will entail, including discussing “the future of our national monuments.”

“[Trump] will announce his decision to reduce the size of Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand-Staircase Escalante national monuments,” Politico reports, “a cause that Hatch has championed.” Politico asserts that the visit is a move intended to persuade Hatch to rethink his retirement plans.

Hatch, however, made no mention of any plan for reelection or Trump’s supposed endorsement in his video tweet.